Fans of automation will surely know of Tasker, the Android app that lets you automate nearly anything imaginable on an Android device. Another big name in automation, IFTTT (If This Then That) recently released an app for Android, complete with new Android-specific channels. If you already use Tasker, can you benefit from having IFTTT on your device? Let’s find out.
IFTTT: A Brief Overview
If you’ve never heard of IFTTT, our Ultimate Guide will tell you all you need to know. Essentially, the service allows you to set up recipes, which each use two different channels. One of these channels serves as a trigger, and the other as an action. The channels correspond to different websites or services: Facebook, Gmail, Pocket, and Dropbox are just a few of the options available to you.
Once you’ve set up some channels, all you need to do is choose how they interact with each other. For example, you might choose to tweet when your favorite NHL team wins. Or, you might want to add all new Instagram photos from a particular account into your Dropbox for later use. You’re only limited by your imagination.
New IFTTT Features On Android
The IFTTT Android app lets you access the service just like you would on the Web. You can view a running log of when your recipes have fired, browse other users’ shared recipes, or edit and activate channels. Where the app really gains functionality, however, is in the six new channels exclusive to Android. Let’s quickly examine each one.
- Android Device is the most general channel. As a trigger, it can monitor when your device connects or disconnects from a Wi-Fi network. As an action, it can mute your ringtone, change the ringtone volume, or change your wallpaper.
- Android Location, not surprisingly, can monitor your device’s location. As a trigger, it acts when you enter or exit an area, and you choose the area right after selecting it. It cannot be used as an action, for obvious reasons.
- Android Notifications is possibly the most useful new channel. It’s the only one of the six that can’t act as a trigger, but as an action it lets you put anything into your notification drawer. Paired with channels like ESPN, Craigslist, or Weather, you can immediately be notified about what’s most important to you. Before this channel existed, you could have used a service like Pushbullet, which we’ve covered before, to do this, but now you can cut out the middle man.
- Android Phone Call deals with phone calls, obviously. With everything phones can do today, it’s easy to forget that they can actually make calls. As a trigger, this one can react to missed, answered, or placed calls. Like Location, it has no action parameters.
- Android Photos, as a trigger, can react to any photo taken. If you like, you can also restrict it to just photos in a certain area, or only screenshots. It can’t be used as an action, however.
- Finally, Android SMS deals with text messaging. As a trigger, it can react to SMS messages sent to any number, or even to messages that contain certain content. As an action, it can send an SMS to a number of your choosing.
If you need some recipe ideas, there have been plenty of posts dedicated to this very topic.
How Does IFTTT Compare To Tasker?
If you’ve already been using IFTTT on the Web and are an Android user, it’s a no-brainer to install the Android app. But if you already use Tasker to automate your Android, is IFTTT worth adopting? I believe the answer is yes. Let’s take a look at how the services are different and how to maximize productivity by using them both.
The first and most obvious difference is that Tasker is much more complex than IFTTT. If you’re new to Android or don’t consider yourself proficient with technology in general, Tasker will likely seem daunting to you at first. IFTTT is a good way to ease yourself into the world of automation, with its straightforward “if this, then that” flow.
However, the two deal with different categories. For the most part, Tasker allows you to manage everything on your device, while IFTTT is all about websites and services.
For Tasker, a task such as opening Pandora when headphones are plugged in is elementary, yet you couldn’t perform that with IFTTT. As of now, IFTTT can’t monitor apps or hardware changes such as your device charging. If this is the only kind of automation you desire, you’re better off with Tasker.
However, power users need not count Tasker out. IFTTT can react to a wide variety of triggers. Tasker has no way to alert you when the score of a baseball game changes, or to give you updates on stocks in which you’ve invested.
How much usage you’ll get out of IFTTT on Android depends on how many of its available platforms you use regularly, and this is what the differences between the two services boil down to.
Tasker is meant to automate the goings-on of your device, like disabling your PIN lock while at home or enabling auto-rotate only for select apps. IFTTT is used to automate your online life: automatically sharing your blog posts to Facebook or alerting you when there’s a hot post in one of your favorite subreddits.
There are a few tasks that both services could perform, like texting your spouse when you leave work, but there aren’t many of these duplicate situations — certainly not enough to say that IFTTT is “just another” automation app.
Tasker And IFTTT: Android’s Happiest Couple
Android truly is the platform for automation. IFTTT for Android brings even more functionality to the table for existing users, while perfectly complementing Tasker. If you use a lot of Web services and have already been using Tasker, IFTTT gives you even more ways to automate. If you’re new to Android but are nervous about using Tasker, IFTTT is a great way to get your feet wet.
iOS users, you don’t have to be left out. IFTTT already has an iOS app, and it has its own special iOS channels.
Are you an IFTTT or Tasker user? Do you think they can coexist in harmony? Have you tried the new IFTTT Android app? Leave a comment and let us know!